Chestnut Teal

A male chestnut teal in the wetlands, one of Australia's most colourful waterfowl.

A male chestnut teal in the wetlands, one of Australia’s most colourful waterfowl.

The Chestnut Teal Anas castanea ia a small duck equal in size with the grey teal. It also mixes well with grey teal and, also like the grey teal, mixes peacefully with other waterfowl.

This species is common in the saltier waters of coastal estuaries and wetlands, where it breeds, but it often makes appearances inland. They will also breed inland if conditions are right, as they have in Canberra in recent years. Chestnut teal prefer islands to breed but their total numbers are in decline as coastal development and the destruction of wetlands carries on apace in our developer driven country.

Like grey teal, chestnut teal will breed in tree hollows, on the ground near water or in thick, tall grasses, reeds and rushes. It will readily breed in nest boxes if provided.

Female chestnut teal. The difference between the colours of the crown and lower face are less distinct than in the grey teal.

Female chestnut teal. The difference between the colours of the crown and lower face are less distinct than in the grey teal.

The male chestnut teal is unmistakeable. It has an iridescent (“beetle-green”) head and a dark brown body feathers, thickly edged with rich chestnut brown. It has a black tail and rump with a white patch on either side if front of that. Like the grey teal it has a white patch on its inner wings and an iridescent green  speculum, or window, on the lower wings, but these features are mostly seen when the duck is in flight.

Female chestnut teal. The difference between the colours of the crown and lower face are less distinct than in the grey teal.

The female chestnut teal looks very similar indeed to the grey teal, but is distinctly darker. Like the male it has bright red eyes and a grey bill.

Chestnut teals, like their close relatives, grey teals, can be highly nomadic and can be found where conditions suit them at the time. They are also dabbling ducks but are more vegetarian than the grey teal. While they by far prefer plant materials, they will also eat small animals as well. They have been observed following pelicans and devouring the pond life disturbed in the wake of the much large birds. Chestnut teal settled in the wetlands shortly after the floods and were one of the first species to disappear as water levels declined in mid 2012.

Chestnut and grey teal. From the left: two grey teal, upper, two chestnut teal, lower right, two grey teal. Note the differences between the female chestnut teal and the grey teal. Note also the green speculums and white patches on the central birds.

Chestnut and grey teal. From the left: two grey teal, upper, two chestnut teal, lower right, two grey teal. Note the differences between the female chestnut teal and the grey teal. Note also the green speculums and white patches on the central birds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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